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December 27, 2003

Kujichagulia 2003

Kawanzaa2.gifThis morning, I went to the African Marketplace & Kwanzaa Parade at Liemert Park, entirely by accident.

The plan was to meet Pops at Lucy Florence and talk about days past and days to come. That happened uneventfully, but I got a chance to see a bit of the K in action. Interestingly enough it was who wasn't there that got my attention.

The Muir High Alumni drum corps just blew all the recorded and amplified music everywhere away. They had the kind of beat that made you change the rhythm of your walking pace. It was powerful. While I had just been hanging around the natty dreads and their incense and t-shirt booths, it was that booming that let me know a real parade was happening. I finally got out to Crenshaw and found the Dorsey HS cheerleaders, and an incredible set of steppers whose name escapes me (all in black and gold) and finally a group of about 30 black equestrians trotting in grand style.

Something about black horsemen (and women) really impresses me. Whenever I see them in parades, whether they be the Buffallo Soldier re-enactors, part of some other equestrian group, or just trotting up the street in a horse community like Altadena, it always piques my interest. These folks were styling in white longsleeves with black pants, as their horses highstepped in black, red and silver tack.

Still and all, the sparsity of the whole affair was the most remarkable thing I noticed. There couldn't have been more than 1000 folks at Liemert Park itself. Power106 had their radio truck in the parade, so it must have been announced. Still, it's hard to judge considering I was at the very end of the parade route. Everybody who wants to get their African thing on was in force including the usual suspects, but the huge crowd that shows up for the King Day parade was conspicuously absent.

Not looking for inspiration these things don't encourage or discourage. I really wished I had a little bit more cash to spend and that I had brought the kids. But there will always be another opportunity to get into roots. While I was there I was able, finally to get some red, black and green candles. I called Rite-Aid last night, they said they had them in stock but that was not the color green nor size red I had in mind. It's great when the kind of stuff I'm talking about is right there. The vendors of African objets d'art were making their small fortunes, and that's some commercialization nobody could object to. On the whole, it was a good thing.

Kujichagulia is fun to say 80 different ways, and so the kids had a field day with the word this evening. We can do what we want, just give us room.

I'm bushed this evening and don't really want to get into the personal Kujichagulia story. Besides, all of you know that being a black Republican is about as Kukichagulia as one can get. Of course, that brings one in conflict with Ujamaa. But that's for another day.

Posted by mbowen at December 27, 2003 03:10 PM

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If you're interested in reading about black horsemen in an African context, look up the history of Oyo, or that of the Hausa states. The use of cavalry was central to Oyo's rise as a major power (it's too bad they don't teach anything meaningful about real black African history in American schools, or the major historical West African states would be better known. We weren't all just a bunch of savages in loincloths before the white man came to give us civilization.)

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at December 28, 2003 07:45 AM